News Analysis: U.S. Moves To Tighten Screws On Russia, But Outcome Still Unknown

The United States on Wednesday continued to move toward heightening pressure on Russia over the crisis in Ukraine, but it remains unknown whether Washington's actions will have any impact, experts said.

U.S. President Barack Obama on Wednesday hosted Ukrainian interim Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk at the White House, while the Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted to impose financial sanctions and visa restrictions on Russian officials.

With a referendum over whether Ukraine's autonomous republic of Crimea will become part of Russia planned for Sunday, Washington has been ratcheting up pressure on Moscow. Earlier this week, the White House indicated that Moscow would be booted out of the Group of Eight (G8) Industrialized Nations.

The U.S. has blasted Russia for deploying its armed forces to Crimea in recent weeks, although Russian President Vladimir Putin said his aim was simply to protect that region's massive ethnic Russian population and last week dismissed assumptions that Moscow is considering Crimea's accession to Russia -- adding that only Crimeans themselves may determine their future.

He also warned that any harm from sanctions would be "mutual in the modern world," saying Russia would continue to prepare for June's G8 summit.

With Moscow's deep ties to the global economy, U.S. sanctions could hurt Russia, but the impact remains unknown, U.S. experts said.

U.S. Republican strategist Ford O'Connell said Russia "is not an easy country to squeeze" diplomatically and economically.

"Whatever game plan or sanctions the U.S. does, (U.S. Secretary of State John) Kerry is going to have to get all these folks on board in Europe," he told Xinhua.

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